Costa Rica’s Urena out for revenge against Uruguay in Group D clash

Painful memory of 2010 World play-off defeat is spurring on the group's outsiders today.
Costa Rica players during the team's training session at the Estadio Castelao stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil, 13 June 2014. Costa Rica will face Uruguay on 14 June in the  World Cup 2014. EPA/GEORGI LICOVSKI   EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Costa Rica players during the team's training session at the Estadio Castelao stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil, 13 June 2014. Costa Rica will face Uruguay on 14 June in the World Cup 2014. EPA/GEORGI LICOVSKI EDITORIAL USE ONLY

FORTALEZA // Minutes after Holland had exorcised their four-year-old Spanish demons, Costa Rica forward Marco Urena walked into a press conference and asserted his side is ready to exact revenge over their own rivals.

Los Ticos face Uruguay today at Arena Castelao with the memories of a narrow defeat in a World Cup 2010 continental play-off still painfully lingering in players’ minds. Urena was 20 at the time and never featured in either of the two-legged ties, but he knows the importance and said the right words to the hungry Costa Rican media.

When asked about the prospect of facing the team that denied them a place in South Africa, Urena replied: “Most of us are too young, but we know there is a rivalry, of course. We really feel the responsibility and certainly tomorrow, after the match, if we win, it will be a special celebration. We are all waiting for the match to arrive. We want to do things right and we want to do it in the proper way. This is the final step.”

Oscar Tabarez, the venerated Uruguay coach, continued his trend of naming his side 24 hours in advance, so it is already known, for instance, that five of his 11 started the crucial second leg of the play-off with Costa Rica in 2009. It is also already known that Luis Suarez will not start.

The prolific Liverpool striker has not managed to recover from knee surgery in time and will begin on the bench. Diego Forlan will instead partner Edinson Cavani up front.

“Uruguay without Suarez is an important loss for them; we have seen that in different matches they have played,” Urena said. “For us, it is a great advantage. That said, all their players are important. They all play in the big leagues and we know what they can do on the pitch. We will need to be ready, and I feel we are.”

Jose Luis Pinto, the Colombian in charge of Costa Rica, held his cards closer to his chest when it came to naming his team. “I thank Tabarez for the line-up,” he said, before revealing he would only announce his line-up two hours before kick-off. “We know each other well and I have analysed the options he has at his disposal. He has experience, so is maybe able to relax a little more.”

Tonight’s match will be Pinto’s 100th in charge of a national team, but his first at Fifa’s showpiece tournament. He is looking forward to pitting his wits against the likes of Tabarez, Cesare Prandelli of Italy and England’s Roy Hodgson.

“When I became a coach, I thought that perhaps one day I would be lucky enough to go to a World Cup,” said Pinto, who is in his second spell as Costa Rica coach and was also in charge of Colombia between 2007 and 2008. “All we have to do is not lose our minds; just keep cool. It is not a war, I am just looking for proper analysis and good balance.”

Los Ticos are ranked 28th in the world and, having been grouped with three previous champions, ae not being given much hope by observers. Pinto, however, is looking to emulate the likes of Croatia and South Korea, who surprisingly reached the semi-finals in 1998 and 2002 respectively.

“In 1998, nobody believed in Croatia and they went far, while Korea in 2002 surprised the Italians,” Pinto said. “Italy have been defeated and I have seen England lose a few times at Wembley from teams from outside, so the fact they are champions in the past is not such a big factor. “History is important, yes, but we are playing football today. Tactics and being prepared is more important than past achievements.”

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

Published: June 14, 2014 04:00 AM

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